Is you grocery budget consistent? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 02-22-2011, 10:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So for the last few months I've been trying to do more of a pantry challlenge and using what I've got before adding more. I seem to be spending on a month to month base anywhere for $300-$500 a month. I'm pretty strict with my budget and so I don't think I'm splurging on items (except for blueberries last month (ds loves them, but I bought them on sale) and avacados (also on sale though). This is an example of a couple of items I only get on a good sale.

 

I also make a point to stock up on items when they are on sale, like chicken, cold cereals, crackers, coffee, bread. Things that I can freeze or store that have fairly high prices at full price.

I think in the long run it's helping me save money but it makes it hard to track the budget on a month to month basis. Some months I feel like I've done great at keeping the grocery budget down and then other times feel like I must have blown it.

 

Also I might be making a run to Costco with a friend (nearest Costco is 45 miles) and she has a membership. So I'm sure I'll drop a $200-$300 easy on items for the year (olive oil, contact solution, toilet paper, coffee and raw sugar are my staples there) If you build a pantry how do you build this into your budget tracking?

 

Just wondering if others experience this and how you track it. Groceries are really the only place I can fudge with our monthly budget and save.

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#2 of 17 Old 02-22-2011, 12:42 PM
 
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I spend different every month, I try to keep in under 400 but some months it's not possible. I write down everything I spend at the grocery store every month and savey receipts. Here's what I spent from September till now:
Sept:418.97
Oct: 378.88
Nov: 414.91
Dec: 417.93
Jan:375.34
Feb: 272.77(as of today)

Im trying to do cash in an evelope and anything extra carry over to the next month for overages but I haven't got it to work yet. If I were to go back even farther some months would be 500/600 depending on the sales and what I stocked up on.
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#3 of 17 Old 02-22-2011, 12:52 PM
 
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No.  I just looked it up and it's kind of bizarre how much it varies.

 

Dec. $270

Jan.  $350

Feb. $66

 

My average is around $275.  I do think my spending goes in the same pattern though because I stock up when things we use go on sale.  So last month, we stocked up alot and I haven't needed to shop much this month and so far, haven't found any great sales. 

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#4 of 17 Old 02-22-2011, 02:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess the envelope system might help to spend the grocery budget on groceries and then carry any remaining over. But I am one of those people that the envelpe system does not work for me. I tried it for groceries and then for our miscellaneous budget. I think it's because dh and I worked our way through school waiting tables and the cash tips were spending money and our paychecks were for bills. I just can't seem to get the {cash in wallet = extra $$ to spend} out of my habit. We rarely had cash in our wallet for years after ds1 was born but now that I do a little childcare on the side, we do. I almost have to put that money straight into the bank or use for groceries or I squander it away. I thought I could give dh an "allowance" in cash for alcohol. I'm trying to keep him to a $30 limit a month but it doesn't always work, he feels deprived.

 

Maybe I'm not doing so bad, but could track month to month to see if it averages out.

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#5 of 17 Old 02-22-2011, 06:03 PM
 
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My grocery budget is $350 per month, not because I spend exactly that, but because that is what it averages out to. My monthly totals range from under $300 to over $400, it just depends on what we need when and when there are good sales.

 

As for stocking up on things, when I first started (when we finally lived somewhere with a pantry to stock!!) I had to find a little extra cash to get started, but really that was a once or twice kind of deal- once you have stocked up on some things, you don't have to buy that item for a while (ideally, until it goes on sale again) so that freed up some room in the already existing budget. So, other than coming up with a small extra chunk (and I mean small, I got started with just an extra $25 or so) I didn't have to budget extra for stocking up.


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#6 of 17 Old 02-23-2011, 07:41 AM
 
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Mine is the same every month, but that's because I have no self-control at the grocery store.  I mean, if you gave me $800 to spend in a month, I totally could do that.  And, then, if I had $300, I could do that, too.  There's really no end (well, perhaps, but when we were childless and ate out frequently, we could spend $800-$900 a month at the store, so these days, I could probably hit $1500).  Beautiful produce is always going to call to me, Every meal that I cook could have *something* extra added to it that costs a little more money, you know?  I could totally upgrade all my choices at the grocery store.  If there is money on the table in regards to food, I'm going to spend it.

 

So, I set an amount that we can afford.  It's in cash.  When it's gone, it's gone.  I try to fit some room in there for stocking up on good deals, but I could good deal us into the poor house, so any good deals I get have to fit into the budget.  Sometimes, if it's a really, really great deal, I'll dip into my personal spending money.  But, that's cause I love a good deal, so I consider it entertainment.  LOL

I have to be strict with myself, or I can't stay in budget.  And, for me, it's important to stay in budget.  Cause if I live within my means, I get to stay home with my children and meet some of our other financial goals.  And, to me, that's more important than anything else.  And, if that means that I pay full price for something when I could have gotten it at a better deal 3 weeks prior (and perhaps have to make cuts other places to make up for it), well, that's just par for the course.  There will always be another good deal, there will always be another way to save money (lentils are always cheaper than meat, for instance), and on and on.  But, staying in budget is important in my situation, because my goals are more important than always getting the best price on something.

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#7 of 17 Old 02-23-2011, 07:39 PM
 
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Ours actually varies a lot.  I didn't really internalize how much until you asked this question.  In the last year, my highest month was close to 250% of my lowest month.  It's also amazing how much the bills have slowly crept up (I assume with the kids eating more as they get older).  Our groceries are averaging 33% more than three years ago.


 

 

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#8 of 17 Old 02-25-2011, 03:53 PM
 
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We do envelopes and I allot about $250 for farm-direct meat, $100 for Azure Standard, and $600 for groceries at TJ/co-op/regular grocery store. The $600 I don't generally use all of for groceries so I use whatever I have left for things I want to stock up on, and I agree, Costco is great for that! And yes we spend a lot on food, but we are very frugal in other areas and have a very restricted diet due to multiple food allergies so the money I save in other areas gets to be used for food.


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#9 of 17 Old 02-25-2011, 03:53 PM
 
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Sorry double posted.


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#10 of 17 Old 02-25-2011, 05:12 PM
 
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Ours is the same each month, but we will add extra if we know something is up. For example, we had a Christmas line item in December that was to cover everything xmas based, including foods that were outside normal (turkey, extra baking stuff etc) as well as gifts.

 

If I know I want to go to Costco with a frind, I would add an extra $200 into the budget for that month. Otherwise I just don't go. I shop flyers for the most part and find that the savings are negligible at costco compared to savvy flyer shopping (and I am in canada where it's not as good as the US).

 

What I also have to remind myself is that the olive oil will go on sale again - I don't have to buy a year's worth this month. I just buy enough for the next month or two.


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#11 of 17 Old 02-26-2011, 06:09 AM
 
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Ours is never very similar.  It fluctuates wildly, I'd even say.  We have a threshold we don't like to go over, but it can vary by hundreds depending on what I'm cooking.  I love to cook and experiment a lot.  I average a few to several new-to-us dishes a month with an average of 1 or 2 of them making it into the normal rotation.  However, normal rotation for us is once every 3 - 4 months, as my list of go-to meals is over 100 recipes.  Sometimes I have more expensive recipes in a month than in other months, so that makes a difference.  Dd also goes through growth spurts and eats more at times, and well, I guess we all eat more or less depending on our mood, so that factors in.  Also we don't eat processed food, so seasonality changes the food budget quite a bit.  We eat more cheaply in the late spring through early fall.  Our single biggest expense is fresh fruit and vegetables.  We buy meat by the animal (a side of beef, half a hog, whole chickens, etc.), so when it's butchering time our grocery bill is much higher, but it's budgeted into our annual spending.  Unless you basically eat the same thing over and over again, your bill isn't going to be very consistent, I wouldn't think.

 

ETA:  It's been many years since I stocked my pantry (and I keep about 6 months on average), but when I did so (now it's just a natural rotation of what I use), I just spent more for stocking up and didn't put back as much in savings.  In the end, having a lush pantry has probably saved me more money, actually.  ;)

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#12 of 17 Old 02-26-2011, 08:35 AM
 
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Our food budget changes monthly, but it averages out to about $400/month. This month we spent $75, but that is because we just got a bunch of beef last month and had stocked up at Sam's club the month before. So, it all balances out. I am really trying to find ways to cut it down further with coupons and stockpiling.


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#13 of 17 Old 02-26-2011, 01:47 PM
 
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My grocery budget varies tremendously.  And the reason for the variation also varies, LOL. 

 

Sometimes my budget varies because we bought a side of beef or we were buying feed for the 100 chickens that we're going to eat over the next year (after we butcher them).  Sometimes my budget is higher because I'm working more and don't have as much time to cook from scratch.  Sometimes it's higher because we're entertaining more than usual (hello summer!). 

 

For me, I guess it all evens out in the end so I don't obsess too much about it.  If I do notice that I've spent more than I'm comfortable with, I will dial it back and cook from scratch and meal plan more carefully the next month. 

 

In 2010, I averaged $676/month on groceries/food at home for our family of 6.  But I spent $906 in August and $493 in January.  So there's a pretty big range for me. 


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#14 of 17 Old 02-27-2011, 02:57 AM
 
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My monthly average varies a lot, anywhere from $400 to $950. Average is about $750.   Although I do my grocery budget 6 months at a time, so for every 6 months they're pretty consistent.  On the rise due to price increase, of course.


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#15 of 17 Old 02-27-2011, 11:16 AM
 
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My budget is consistent.  I have gone to Costco and spent loads of money there, but then when I tracked grocery spending over the next couple months it broke even.  I find that I am less disciplined with my spending and go for more splurges and organics if I go to the big box stores, which cancels out all savings.  If I just go to the regular grocery store I am careful to shop sales and coupon so it comes out the same. 

 

The only way I have ever saved money on groceries is by putting a lot more time into it - dried beans, bread from scratch, etc. while at the same time restricting expensive foods like cheese and meat.  For some people a lot of time and feelings of deprivation would be worth a little bit of money, but I work 32 hours a week and I really don't enjoy making bread that much when you can get a perfectly nice loaf for $2. Another thing that has saved me money is doing the math in my head as I put each thing into the cart (don't try this while shopping with a toddler lol.gif)

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#16 of 17 Old 03-01-2011, 07:38 AM
 
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We are a family of 4. Two younger school aged children. We spend about $650 a month- that was last years avg. That includes our side of beef and our full 2 sides of pork we purchase annually. But our hanging weight both times this year is higher so it was about $200 more this year for our meat. But we have more meat as well. Looking at prices, I am thinking it will be more like $700-$750 a month this year.
-We cook from scratch 99.99% of the time.
-We eat out about once or twice a month once just dh and I, once the family
-Dh takes leftovers for lunch everyday
-dd1 takes lunch to school 4 times weekly, buys once a week.
-we get organic milk and produce 80% of the time
-we shop at Aldi for staples, snackie items
-we shop at TJs for several items as well.
-we shop sales for amish chicken, pasta etc and stock up on sale items.
-we buy several things in bulk, not just meat but flour, oil, hot dogs
-I menu plan

We get an organic delivery but sometimes there is a need to buy whatever that is non organic. I dont beat myself up over this, but we eat very well. Both DH and I are also very good cooks and we enjoy cooking. Some months we go a bit over what the avg is, and some months under for whatever reason. I budget about 20% of my grocery money to stocking up on a sale. Such as easter/passover is coming in April. There will be all kinds of great sale items I will stock up on that will carry me thru the summer. Last year I stocked up on a super pasta sale in April and it lasted until Sept. In a few weeks, corned beef will be on sale and on super sale AFTER St patricks day. I will buy a few to make corned beef hash etc. Do the same with turkeys etc.




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#17 of 17 Old 03-04-2011, 02:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm just trying to budget a little better, or maybe I should say tracking. We are very frugal when it comes to groceries (at least when I don't send dh to pick up something). So I know I'm not splurging when I stockpile something. Like I just bought several bags of goldfish while they were $1 each over the Superbowl. These are a staple for ds's snacks at school. I don't have a huge pantry right now so I know I'm not overdoing it.....I don't have the room anyway.

 

As far as Costco. Yes I know how I probably spent more there when we had a membership and lived 5 minutes away. However we haven't been members for over a year because we moved and can't justify the gas and membership fee. But I know after shopping around and watching for sales that some items don't come close to what I was able to get them for at Costco......like I said Olive Oil, raw sugar, TP, coffee, and contact solution. There is certainly a whole lot more I used to buy there years ago but these are the items I intend to get and nothing else.

 

Maybe I will wait a few more months and look at it over a six month period.

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